The Zombie Hike will take place in Riverside State Park on October 19

If you have been in the Spokane area in October, you might be familiar with this annual evening of outdoor scary fun, that is if you like zombies jumping out at you in the dark woods. This year’s Zombie Hike, which includes a bonfire and food trucks, is set for October 19 in Riverside State Park from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Seven Mile Airstrip. Tickets are $10 for adults and kids ages 10 and up and $5 for kids under 10. 

What you may not know is that this horrifying good time has the added benefit of supporting a little-known but crucial group, the Riverside State Park Foundation. The foundation relies on funding from events like the Zombie Hike to help sustain the park, enhance visitors’ experiences, and promote responsible use of park resources. Many of us enjoy Riverside and take advantage of the hiking, biking, running, horse trails, climbs, water access, picnic areas, and solace it provides. But to help keep the park safe, enjoyable, and available for all often takes more money than the State Park budget allows. Lucky for us, there were some dedicated and visionary folks who saw a need and formed the non-profit Riverside State Park Foundation in 2002 that is separate from the state government but works closely with the state parks staff in identifying needs. Some people have the mindset that the money “taken” for Discover Pass fees and taxes should be enough, but the government funding for state parks are shared by all of the state parks across the state, and necessary Riverside State Park projects are put on a list of needs along with all of the others.  

Lookout for Zombies on October 19!

In 2008, the recession hit hard, and the entire state parks system experienced drastic reductions in personnel and services. Much needed maintenance projects were put on indefinite hold, and the foundation stepped in to help. While the name may sound obscure and abstract, Riverside State Park Foundation is actually a dynamic, passionate group of 15 board members, including hikers, bike riders, kayakers, horse riders, off road enthusiasts, anglers, and nature nerds who share an overall love of the park. 

One of the coolest things about the foundation is that whatever money it raises at events like the Zombie Hike does not go to the far away reaches of Olympia but stays here to be used at Riverside to help map trails, enhance security, and improve trailheads. The foundation has also provided informational kiosks, signage, drinking fountains, equipment for volunteer trail maintenance, and much more. In addition to the Zombie Hike and other revenue sources, the foundation benefits from generous grants and donations from REI, Round and Round Productions, and Fairwood Animal Hospital.To learn more, donate, or volunteer, visit Riversidestateparkfoundation.org. The foundation currently has an open volunteer board position for someone with experience in technology, social media, fundraising, and event planning. Click the “Volunteer” button on its website if you’re interested.